Monday, November 13, 2006

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Okay, some may remember that I couldn't finish Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game. Well, here's another book I couldn't finish. First, why I bought it...
I had heard that Eragon was written by a boy genius a few years ago, but that's normally a warning sign when it comes to writing (unlike music where Mozart and Mendelsohn were both awesome at a very early age). I resisted buying it because I'm not much into reading sci-fi and fantasy novels though I will read short stories and definitely go to see the movies. There's the rub...

I was in the store and the cover of the book showed me that Eragon IS a Major Motion Picture, with Jeremy Irons who I really like as an actor. (He was Scar in the Lion King - he and Robert Guillame made that movie for me.) Anyway, I figured that if Irons was in the movie it would be a good one (a cause and effect problem). Long story short (unless it's too late for that) I paid the money without reading any of it at the store.

At home, I started reading...and groaning. First, there were Orcs and Elves in it - I saw that movie already. More importantly, however, the writing was...rubbish. If I recall correctly, the hero's "dark eyebrows sat over his eyes." Where the hell else should they be? As a general rule, only describe the position of body parts when they're NOT in the usual place, right? "One ear was higher than the other" or "His teeth were on the floor" or "after the surgery, the doctors let Bobby carry his gonads home in a jar". Then, I'm not sure you can say "eyebrows sat" unless you can also say "his eyes sat in their sockets". I'm not sure on this one, though and I'll willingly defer to others.

Of course, any writer can slip up - I certainly have - but every page was littered with this type of prose (for those keeping score at home the precise type is referred to as "inept"). It's almost like he went out of his way to do this to his readers. Is that spite?

Frankly, I'm most upset by the fact that he must have had an editor - a responsible adult, no? Presumably this editor had access to things like blue pencils and erasers and bottles of white out. So what's the excuse?

Anyway, I don't normally knock other writers - writing is hard work - but the book caught me off guard and nearly killed me with gut clenching spasms as each offense to good writing stabbed me in the eyes...I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone else*.

* Please, if you're a fan of Paolini (or Paolini yourself) don't try to prove me wrong: A) It won't work and B) I'm really seeking closure on this issue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep that book around though for times when your own writing starts seeming like rubbish to you. I have several of those books for that occassion myself...most of them written by John Rickards.

November 13, 2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

You could be wrong about his having an editor. The book was originally self-published (first editions are worth a mint now), so it was most likely unedited. When it was reprinted by a major house, maybe no one wanted to tamper with its golden prose.

November 13, 2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

If I thought I'd be that bad at the sentence level, I would quit writing. Of course, Paolini is very young and may well improve by leaps and bounds by the time he's my age, but I already am my age, so there's much less hope for me...

The editor who picked this out of the sluch pile and saw it could make a fortune must have been extremely perceptive - I'd have tossed it aside in it's first couple of pages and lost out on millions. If I somehow survived to a point where I liked it enough to make an offer, the string attached about editing would have been made of titanium. I don't doubt I would have made it a much slimmer volume.

November 13, 2006 12:23 PM  
Blogger Gerald So said...

You saved me some cash, Steven. I'm not a big sci-fi/fantasy reader, either, but with the movie coming out I'd begun to waver.

One fantasy book I read recently—the movie of which I'm excited to see—is STARDUST by Neil Gaiman.

November 16, 2006 5:53 AM  

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